So far, in this house I've found: CPCs wrapped under the heads of wood
screws securing a plastic pattress box, dishwasher wired brown-to-black
and blue-to-red, shelving supports fixed with 1/2" screws (barely in the
plaster), door hinges secured with long BZP pozi screws that have the
plain shank in the door frame, BZP posi screws everywhere, a kitchen
extractor blowing into a capped chimney, a concealed shower mixer fitted
without thought of how to service it (there's a leak!), a 13A socket
connected to a ceiling rose, T&E run on catenary wires to sheds (signed
off a year ago but the insulation had degraded so far it was falling off).
Today I found that the spur to a double 13A socket runs in a rough
channel in the concrete underneath a parquet floor. Sigh! I haven't
checked yet but it's probably a spur from a spur.
Fortunately there haven't been any structural "improvements".
Please people, if you don't know what you're doing then don't do it!
I feel much better for that vent. I'm ready for my medicine now nurse ;-)
I havent ever done any of that and designed and built the
entire house on a bare block of land, mostly single handed.
The only really stupid thing I did was when pointing the block
work at night using par38 floods. Those arent real keen on
being moved around when on and the bulb failure rate due
to that is significant when they are on the planks on 4 gal
drums used when block laying. When the light went out yet
again, I assumed it was just another bulb failure and ran
my hand down the lead to get to the bulb holder in the dark.
Turned out that this time the cord had pulled out of the bulb
holder and I ended up with the bare wires in the palm of the
hand that I had run down the cord. No harm done, but I
kicked myself for having done it like that.
Of course even in the workplace back in the 60s you often found some very
heath Robinson gear made to test pcbs. With valve equipment everywhere you
always were getting shocks. It was isolated mains powered but still it
certainly woke you up in the morning to get several hundred volts across the
hand, and the ladies who worked on setting up tvs seemed almost immune to
eht after a few weeks!
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I suspect though that many people these days do not actually learn as they
move out after doing their deeds. I have to say though that over many years
lots of things we used to all do are now not allowed.
Most of the wiring in this house though good and still sound is done with
the older pvc red black and bare earth sleeved green wire. Its sound and
works and will probably continue to work but I'd not want to try to find
where some of it runs particularly between the main meter under the stairs
to get to upstairs.
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In our village hall, I had to work on the new extractor fan - couldn't find
the isolator - so killed the RCD , The asked where the isolator was "Oh, it
pluuged into an extension strip underneath the kicking board for the
I can empathise with the OP as our last house was left in a similar state.
The previous owner was a painter and decorator who did a lot of contract wo
rk and when he needed anything doing would get people he met in the course
of his work to do foreigners. Every time we did any sort of improvements it
usually involved putting right some botch up first and it never ceased to
amaze me how these so called professionals could pass off the work they did
as professional. In some cases doing the job right in the first place was
easier than some of the botch ups! Its as if some of them could not help th
emselves but include some sort of botch up.
I lost count of the number of "reinstatements" we did but some of the notab
le ones were;
1. Having so many pipes crossing joists close to each other the T&G floorin
g could not be secured down.
2. Locating the CH pump under the floor so it was inaccessible.
3. Using drop feeds to radiators with no means of draining them thus causin
g airlocks every time the system was re-filled.
1. Retaining the old rubber sheathed cable with the separate earth wire as
the core wiring of the electrical system.
2. Replacing sockets and simply connecting the earths to the separate earth
wire by twisting the conductor round the earth conductor instead of using
3. Cotton covered rubber flex buried in the plaster to connect wall lights.
4. Sockets mounted on poorly fixed skirting resulting in the skirting movin
g every time a plug was pulled out leaving the connecting wire rubbing so m
uch the insulation was wearing away.
1. Removing a wall and supporting the upper wall on a RSJ but not replacing
the brickwork between the joists thus leaving bricks in the air and when s
kirting was replaced these bricks would simply fall into the void resulting
in a lot of loose skirting.
2. Creating a new doorway through a load bearing wall with no lintel.
3. Plastering up to 2" thick on plasterboard.
You know how you see on comedy films like the Money Pit things like water c
oming out of electrical sockets etc. We had something similar with gas comi
ng out of a socket A back box was placed up tight against a buried gas pip
e in the plaster, further along was a Tee-joint buried which corroded so th
e gas leaked passed back along the buried pipe run before emerging from the
socket. If I had the foresight I should have noted down all the other botc
hes and written a book about how not to DIY. One potential botch up we neve
r sorted was the previous owner removed a chimney breast in the lounge and
to this day we never found out how the one in the bedroom above was support
ed it was a case of it showed no movement or cracking and was a case of lea
ve well alone.
A spark has been fitting a new consumer unit for my semi-detached
neighbour this morning. The noise was horrendous, sounded like
he was demolishing a wall.
Got to talk to him later and he gave the usual bullshit about
Wylex rewireable fuse boards being 'dangerous' and 'illegal'
but he soon backed down when I corrected him.
She works for the council so he will be a 'council-approved'
From what he was saying, it sounds like he has knocked a block
or two out of the party wall (cavity wall with a 1 inch cavity)
and inset the metal box (I'll check later) into it above the
original wylex metal box which holds the company fuse, meter
and the 8 rewirable fuses above it. This too is built into the
party wall, back to back with mine, but what was acceptable in 1976
is no longeer the case. Surely insetting electrical stuff into
a party wall is no longer allowed ?.
Mine in on the other side of the wall and there is a pad of
heavy duty rockwool stuff separating them for soundproof
However, you can only re-plaster or chase out a party wall
without contravening the party wall act, and he either
doesn't know (fairly youngish chap) or didn't care.
Sometimes I find when you go to diy, it's good to start by turning off
your worrying brain, tell yourself that it will all be fine no matter
how slapdash, and that if builders do it it is easy and almost certainly
foolproof. Then sleep soundly.
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